On October 25, 2019, the dark clouds hovering around Ghana football began to dissipate. A new dawn beckoned. The game changer had been elected to effect game changing tactics. One, that altered the dynamics and swung the pendulum back in favor of Ghana Football’s rightful owners.
Months before that, the situation looked gloomy. ‘Football belongs to the football people’ they constantly charged. And when the occasion came, the football people elected their leader. One, not to just occupy a position and lead, but most importantly one to serve; Kurt E.S. Okraku.
His intentions were clear from the onset, now the dust had settled, the path was clear. What was needed was the commitment and will to chart the course. His acceptance speech evoked memories of Nelson Mandela’s, just after the cruel apartheid system had been shoved into the abyss. The difference here was Ghana Football’s rightful owners had shoved away from the pretenders; a Normalization Committee that saddled the system with several issues.
Standing before Congress, eyes beheld the man who had earlier ascended the podium with others. 4 men with fine football brains and an unyielding female tiro ready to feast with the elders. After everything was over, the same man standing before Congress now, emerged unscathed.
Like a knight in shining armor but brimming with humility he uttered these words.
“It is time for us to work. It is time for us to let go of our feelings. It is time to build a new product for Ghana football which the corporate world, Ghanaians and the world will be proud of. “It is time for us to ignite passion and create wealth for everybody.”
77 days have passed since these words were spoken by Kurt Okraku. The above declaration has become building principles on how the new football leadership has run affairs. Call it the game changing approach and you are surely spot on.
From thence, this piece will attempt to evaluate the impact of the game-changing formula and the progress made so far in the quest to return Ghana Football to its rightful place.
MEETINGS WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS
Soon after his election, Kurt Okraku as FA boss engaged various key stakeholders in a series of meetings. There was that all-important meeting with the first gentleman of the land, His Excellency President Akuffo Addo, who pledged his government’s readiness and support to the footballing family.
There were other meetings with the FIFA president Gianni Infantino, CAF president Ahmad, representatives of established corporate brands and then the official kit sponsors of the national teams, Puma. He also engaged staff of the GFA and there was that famous meeting with top dancehall act Shatta Wale.
All these engagements were strategically geared towards;
1) Getting acquainted with the underlying factors that bedevil Ghana Football
2) Bridging the gap between the GFA he now headed and the stakeholders who had kept a distance due to the tainted image and dented the reputation of the footballing fraternity.
3) Re-establishing contact with the various stakeholders in the new quest the football people sought to pursue. Certainly, this was a laudable move.
#Bringbackthelove CAMPAIGN AND THE NEW SOCIAL MEDIA DRIVE
The agenda to ignite passion and heighten following for the local game has also been initiated with a new campaign dubbed #bringbackthelove. The affinity for Ghana Football had wilted and the birthing of such an initiative was timely. It started with the various national teams and its something that has continued in the wake of the Ghana Premier League returning. There now seems a new buzz around social media with mostly positive commentary concerning Ghana Football. The campaign is still in its implementation stage and can only get better with time.
The #bringbackthelove campaign has also coincided with the GFA’s Communication department upping their game. There has been the creation of new logos for the various GFA organized competitions. GFA’s social media channels have now raised the standards and constantly share quality digital content for its growing list of followers.
The use of graphic images and audiovisual content to project Ghana football is one of the many ways to win back following for the local game and reach out to a larger audience in such a digital world. Gradually these are some of the many things corporate entities look at and with a vibrant brand online, it should not be long before the image repairing mission through such a medium is accomplished.
SUPPORT FOR LOCAL CLUBS AND OTHERS
In his game-changing manifesto, Kurt Okraku outlined the need to support local football clubs with finances and equipment.
This promise has been honored so far with the GFA announcing various financial packages for the Premier League, Division One and Women League clubs.
The clubs were also supplied with football in various quantities to aid their preparations for the upcoming campaign. Though what has been done is not to finally pull the plugs on the struggles clubs face in this context, such interventions will freely help ameliorate their conditions.
Another intervention worth drawing attention to is the decision to scrap officiating fees for premier league, division one and women’s league clubs. The GFA will now be absorbing all costs.
The football association has also resolved that payment of registration fees at the Juvenile level has been scrapped.
CREATING OF COMMITTEES AND SHREWD APPOINTMENTS
The GFA headed by Kurt Okraku also set up various standing and Adhoc Committees to help run affairs for Ghana Football. One particular observation was the appointment of prominent media personnel and experts from various fields to either head or become members of these committees.
SANITIZING THE COACHING SECTOR AND HELP FOR REFEREES AND OTHER OFFICIALS
The ushering in of the new premier league season also saw the enforcement of one key aspect of club licensing system requirement. Premier League clubs can now only employ coaches who possess the CAF License A certificate. The strict adherence to this has brought sanity to the coaching terrain in the country and has discreetly segregated the various coaches as per their qualification. This subtly creates a sort of ladder where coaches know there is an ultimate goal to pursue in regards to upgrading their levels and climbing up.
There is also one major intervention the Kurt Okraku administration have done. Before taking over and shortly after the ascension to the throne, our various national teams suffered series of disappointments. From the U-17 level to the senior teams, none of the various national sides were able to achieve set targets. This development meant a new path had to be carved. It had become imperative that the football authorities act to address the clamant needs of the people not necessarily to satisfy their whims and caprices but to start shaping a better future for Ghana football.
And so when news emerged that the GFA had resorted to dissolve all technical teams of the various male and female national sides, there was a reaction of satisfaction from almost all football enthusiasts in the country. Apparently, this bold step was a major one towards tackling the various challenges that robbed our national teams off success in international competitions.
The new administration, led by Kurt Okraku, have also organized refresher courses for match day officials, match Commissioners, Regional FA Chairmen and coaches to update them ahead of the new season.
So after 77 days, and upon reflection of his rallying call to Congress, it is safe to conclude that Kurt ES Okraku is living the dream and changing the game in a step by step manner.
Until his race is fully run, there is this striking conviction that Kurt Okraku’s GFA is working by building a new product for Ghana football which the corporate world, Ghanaians and the world will be proud of.
So, the time is nigh to ignite passion and create wealth for everybody. Certainly, the game is changing.